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Criticism of the Communist Political Leadership in Fanshen

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2020, 33(3), pp.69-97
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : August 10, 2020
  • Accepted : December 14, 2020
  • Published : December 31, 2020

Soim Kim 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

David Hare’s play, Fashen (1976) dramatizes the land reform in Long Bow village in China from 1945-48, which was recorded in William Hinton’s documentary of the same title. Hare, in his preface to the play and various interviews, says that he focuses on “political leadership” in his play because this subject is an urgent one, especially in Europe’s political climate. According to his preface, he attempts to convey to the European audience who have not experienced “what exactly that change might involve and how it can in practice be effected.” But this does not mean that Hare completely glorifies Chinese “fanshen” in his play. Even though he evaluates the land reform in Long Bow as a positive change, Fanshen through its character interactions and scene structures, reveals doubts and criticisms toward the communist leadership during the reform process in China. The discrepancy between the communist ideals about the proletariat leadership and the reality in Long Bow is obvious throughout the play. Even though the communist precursors such as Marx, Engles, and Mao Tse Tung claim that the classless society led by the proletariat is attainable in the communist country, a new hierarchy in the Long bow village defies their idealistic claims. All the decisions about the land reform and the people’s classification are easily overturned by the higher-ranking leaders. The highest point in the power pyramid is Mao Tse Tung whose instructions are the ultimatum in all the decision making. The personal suffering of the common people who belong to the lowest in the chains of power is ignored, and the episodes not related to “fanshen” are abruptly dropped. The basic human rights and freedom of the ordinary peasants are neither cultivated nor celebrated in this village. The play certainly asks the desirable conditions of the political leadership rather than endorsing the “fanshen” process in China.

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